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Avoid the Pain of Text Neck

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Did You Know?

Avoid the Pain of Text Neck

If you’ve ever had an ergonomic evaluation or training, you know the importance of neutral postures to reduce ergonomic risks and maintain your comfort. For example, at a computer workstation, you look straight ahead and at eye-level to see your monitor. Increasingly, however, we are looking DOWN at mobile phones, tablets, and other devices. This awkward posture is leading to a new complaint called “text neck” that is causing pain and strain for users of mobile devices.

The awkward posture of leaning over a mobile device can put an extra 60 punds of pressure on the upper spine.

Studies show that people spend two to four hours a day with their heads tilted at a sharp angle looking at mobile devices and doing other close tasks. The awkward posture of leaning over a mobile device can put an extra 60 pounds of pressure on the upper spine. The long hours that many people spend on their devices can increase the duration of this pressure and cause fatigue, strain, and injury to the neck, shoulders, and upper spine.

There are strategies you can use to help reduce the risk associated with mobile device use.

They include:

  • When possible, transfer your mobile device work to a workstation with a proper ergonomic setup.
  • Rotate your tasks and activities so that you don’t spend extended periods of time on your mobile device.
  • Take frequent breaks while using a mobile device; put the device down, get up, and move for at least 30 seconds every 20-30 minutes.
  • Do exercises that stretch and strengthen the posterior neck muscles.
  • Strengthen your core (abdominal and lower back muscles) to help support your upper body.

While using your mobile device, follow these steps to reduce strain and stress:

  • Don’t hunch over during device use; align your ears over your shoulders and keep your shoulder blades pulled back.
  • While you keep this neutral spine posture, position the device so that it is your eyes that look down at the device, not your head.
  • Follow the 20-20-20 rule by taking a break every 20 minutes for at least 20 seconds and look at objects that are 20 feet away.
  • Do a counter stretch in the opposite direction of your work by arching the upper back and neck backward.

“Text neck” and the associated awkward postures are not exclusive to mobile device users. Occupations that require tilting the head down for job tasks include many medical professions, welders, and artists, just to name a few. Anyone with a job task that requires close-up work and bent neck postures should use the same prevention techniques above to control the ergonomic risks and prevent injuries from bending your head forward and down over your work tasks.

Safety News is produced by State Compensation Insurance Fund to assist clients in their loss prevention efforts. Information or recommendations contained in this publication were obtained from sources believed to be reliable at the date of publication. Information is only advisory and does not presume to be exhaustive or inclusive of all workplace hazards or situations. Permission to reprint articles subject to approval by State Compensation Insurance Fund.

©2016 State Compensation Insurance Fund

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